The last couple of weeks I’ve gone to 7:30 a.m. Sunday Mass at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood. I was confirmed and made my first Communion there back in 1986 and the whole complex will always retain a special place in my heart.

Afterwards I walk over to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, a block-square cornucopia of produce, flowers, music, and food booths.

Mass, followed by food, is a natural and beautiful sequence. Christ is always about the food, the broken bread. A couple of weeks ago, we read the story of Jairus’s daughter and the healing of the hemorrhaging woman. [Mark 5:21-43]

21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing[a] what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus[b] saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Mulling the story over in the following days, I was struck that, after bringing the 12-year-old girl back to life, Christ, the Great Physician, basically says to her: Get up and eat. Not get up and pray. Not get up and thank me. Not get up and take a bunch of meds. Not lie down for a week. Arise and eat. The people who love you will make you something to eat.

Christ is always about the shared meal, the flow of giving and receiving, the movement from the isolation of sickness to the community of “health,” which is not necessarily to say physical health, but the health of faith, of love.

What’s best physically is what gives us most joy spiritually and emotionally.At the end of our lives, are we going to say, I wish I’d worked more, I wish I’d been more successful, more disciplined, holier; I wish I’d amassed more stuff?  No. We’re gonna say–or I am–I wish I’d sat down more often with my friends and had something to eat.


6 Replies to “GET UP AND EAT”

  1. I think you are spot on about our end of life wishes.

    When my morning prayer, such as it is–coffee, bible, daydreaming–is interrupted by wife or daughters, the book gets closed and I commence "prayerful" listening. This involves making sure my eyes are open and are directed in the general vicinity of my beloved one. It could be termed bleary-eyed listening. Wonder of wonders, it seems to bear good fruit! Loved ones seem to be consoled and occasionally I even say something which resonates helpfully with the other. I have taken the show on the road and begun to employ it other times during the day with non-family members.

    I think the Lord wants to take some of the strain out of my prayer and turn it more toward … call it listening, such as we do around a table, with food, guard down, among friends.

    Thx for the inspiration. Blessings for your family.

  2. Jesus was a real mother hen when it came to feeding the people. In the loaves and the fishes miracle, he worried that the the people were hungry and might "faint along the way."
    That is why he gave us the Eucharist to strenghten us, lest we faint along the way.
    What love!How motherly!

  3. It's interesting that you mention the story of the hemorrhaging woman, as I just read a fabulous piece of fiction that imagines what the life of that woman might have been. Check it out at Patheos:

    As for the faith, food and friends, I do so wish I could share your feelings on the subject, but since my celiac disease diagnosis ten years ago, eating has become more about survival and less about sharing. Try to imagine, if you will, being made physically ill by the Eucharist. I am so sensitive to gluten (the protein in wheat, barley and rye) that simply touching recipe cards with traces of flour on them makes me sick. Unfortunately, the Church insists that communion wafers be made only of wheat and water, so it is possible to create merely low-gluten hosts, not gluten-free ones. I can take the wine, but receiving Holy Communion now causes so much anxiety that I satisfy myself with spiritual communion and try for the actual Body and Blood of Christ through the wine only once a year. Yes, I know that if I had faith, or prayed that Jesus take away my anxiety … I know. It's something I do pray for, but I'm not there yet.

  4. Dear Heather,
    I love this post! Some thoughts that it brings to mind:

    -It veers off for me in another direction- that of eating together (feeding others) as part of the charism of hospitality. The necessity of hospitality as something that Christians are called to do has sadly morphed over the centuries and tends to have become very watered down in our 21st century culture. Also, for most cultures, people's lives depend on hospitality, especially for travelers. No one is turned away.

    -I especially love the OT stories of the three angels visiting Abram and Sara (how they "whipped up" a little dinner for the angels) and the widow who baked up some hearth cakes for Elijah, using up the very last bit of her flour and oil to do so, and being rewarded with an unending supply of flour and oil!

    -I haven't read Robert Farrar Capon's "the Supper of the Lamb" for years and years, but you have made me remember it with this post. I need to pull it out and revisit it. One of the gems therin:

    "We were given appetites, not to consume the world and forget it, but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great."

    Looking forward and hoping to meet you all one day at the Heavenly Banquet!

  5. Absolutely lovely!

  6. This really makes me want to start getting up early enough for mass, followed by my favorite home made espresso and a book. I'm tired of getting up and rushing just to get to a job that will never fulfill me.

    What will fulfill me? I went through a phase where I thought going out drinking with friends was what would fulfill me, but when that ended poorly and made me realize I was probably an alcoholic, I was left not knowing how to fill myself with just God again. I like that this reflection makes me think I can add a pinch of good meals (sober but good) with good conversations to the list. After all, doesn't Jesus Himself say that we could not know how long He had waited to share this meal at the last supper?